I have mentioned before that Z has never had to take antibiotics. This has been through a combination of diligence and luck–since if he had ever really needed them, I would have given them to him. I am pretty hippie-dippie but no so hard line as to make my child suffer for it. He is twenty months old, and I would love to make it to two years with this record intact (and beyond, of course! But two years seems like it would be a pretty big milestone compared to most western babies.)
Thinking about antibiotics brings me of course to…ear infections. One of the main reasons babies have to take their first antibiotics.
Z has had one ear infection when he was about 13 months old, which we were able to treat naturally. And while it threw me into a wild mama-panic at the time, I did learn a few things along the way which I wish I had known beforehand, so I could have been better prepared. So I thought I would share, for any first-time parents out there who want to be pro-active about this…
First, some background on ear infections:
Most ear infections tend to happen from 10 to 18 months. It has to do with the shape of the ear canal as it is growing, there is a certain period in development where it is more horizontal, and therefore more easily collects moisture.
An ear infection is usually preceded by several days of fever. This is the body’s way of trying to fight off the infection. If you can catch the ear infection before it gets too severe, you have more of a chance of treating it naturally.
So, knowing that, here are the two most important things that I would do ahead of time:
1. Find a provider you absolutely love, who shares your values. This goes for more than just ear infections, of course. But it is such a relief to know that I trust our doctor completely. I don’t have to fight any battles–if she says Z needs antibiotics I will give them to him in a heartbeat because I know she shares our values and has done her research, and will avoid prescribing antibiotics unless they are absolutely necessary. At the same time, if she is comfortable with trying natural methods in a given situation, then I don’t worry that I might be hurting Z by not picking a more conventional treatment. I absolutely trust her judgement without reservation.
2. Buy an otoscope and check your child’s ears now, before they have an infection. Once you know what “normal” looks like, you can be aware of any issues. Also, you don’t want to be learning how to use the scope for the first time when you’re dealing with a cranky baby. Make a game of it now, and they’ll be used to it when you really need to do it. I bought this one, after Z’s infection. (It’s relatively cheap, highly rated, and so far seems to work pretty well.) It will give you such peace of mind whenever your child is cranky or tugging at his ear to be able to look in and see if there is something you need to worry about. Just a quick check any time they are running a fever can potentially save a visit to the doctor’s office (or get you in there quicker, if needed).
And finally, some of the ways we treated Z’s ear infection naturally. Of course, you would want to talk to your (awesome, highly trusted) care provider before doing these yourself. But this is what worked for us:
These are great and worked really well. Between Z being warm from his fever, and smelling like garlic, it was like holding a toasty garlic loaf the whole time he was sick!
Glycerite is a mix of herbal extracts in glycerin (instead of alcohol) and there are some that help with boosting the immune system. I don’t remember which brand we used, but your doc might have a recommendation. Between this and the garlic drops, Z’s ear infection started getting better within a day and was gone within a week (I didn’t have my otoscope then, so I don’t know exactly how long it took.)
I have to admit I only tried this once. The idea is you take an onion, slice it in half, stick it in the microwave to warm it up (not too hot), wrap it in a towel and hold the flat side against baby’s ear. To say Z did not enjoy this experience would be an understatement! I have since read that warm compresses alone are helpful, so I might try that if your cranky baby isn’t the type to lay patiently with an onion-on-the-ear.
All of these things can also be done alongside antibiotics, and are helpful in relieving pain and speeding healing.
Anyway, thats’s all for a blog post I hope you never need!
Any questions about ear infections? Any experienced mamas care to weigh in with more ear infection insights?
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